A String of Pearls | Chicago Reader

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Camille Billops has been documenting the lives of her extended family in Los Angeles since 1979; in this sixth installment (2001), codirected by her husband, James V. Hatch, she focuses on the men, profiling her middle-aged nephew, his grown son and nephews, and an 82-year-old longtime friend of the family. Drawing on footage that spans two decades, Billops does deliver numerous “pearls,” but she's allowed herself way too much string: the film's 55 minutes are cluttered with peripheral family members, thematic intertitles, voice-over from emergency-room doctors commenting on the mean streets of LA, and the musings of poet/martial artist Afaa M. Weaver.

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